blackmail press 20
Mark Pirie
New Zealand

Featured Artist Amanda Kemp
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of her outstanding works
Downtown Notes, on paper
(For Tony Towle)

Walking around
I cut the size of a building
down to size. It’s far
taller than the length of her body, say,
oddly swaying now in the breeze –

That woman, ahead, I don’t know her,
but I wonder, what does she want?
Carrying all of summer in her dress, I follow her, and
envisage a growing winter in her eyes. It’s the Fall,
she leads me to, first, if I pursue her. I enter a shop
there are crowds of people
and they all want, want, want…but even so

I mightn’t have it, and that’s probably what they think,
and all I care for. Right now this ‘song in town’
is looking for direction. I take the side
of the building outside and set it free.
I watch it rise; it looms over me once more
on its way back to the clouds, and from whence it came, initially,
into view. It’s what these people might believe
or want, like a telephone line permanently hanging in the distance,
a disappointing heaven. Meanwhile, a coffee calls.

And I, gladly, take it.

Boxing Day 2006


“Oh God, my head still hurts…
from last night,
do you remember?

You were there, weren’t you?
Silly, weren’t we?

Yeah, and who was that guy,
Jason, the one you liked.

Oh, you did too!
He was such a dork!
Can’t believe you went for him...
do you want to buy anything,
what about the Punk section?

My God - half these CDs
we’ve got at home, and we never
listen to them?…

Shall I get just one then?
You think so? What’s the matter?
Oh, I know, you’re still
pining after that Jason guy
aren’t you? Look at you!

Forget him, he’s a dork;
if he loved you, you wouldn’t be
standing here with me, would you?

God, there’s so many CDs here
and they are cheap, maybe
we should buy just one…
Good Charlotte…Oh remember that?
That takes me back –

Punk is so cool, isn’t it?”

Real Groovy Record Store, Cuba Street

Pavement gig, Victoria University, 1993

Tall Dwarfs sing like short giants
Their lyrics speak, their songs fight like
Day and night. Their artful sounds
Control our ears and look for fresh disciples.
Then, as drinks resume, 3-dimensional gods
Jump and crash to the crowd’s delight,
Enticing new journeys for those
Tossed backwards and forwards.

Minutes become frozen through the course
Of the show and some are susceptible to the night’s
Passage where sex becomes another
Way to use the stage’s uneven flow.
Copulating under the wooden floor
The lovers soon crawl back
And disengage from the crowd’s belly.

Students are alive in the bar’s fun,
A man spews like a punctured dinghy
Behind speakers of foreign tongue.
A good time becomes the measure of life
Amidst the raucous glee. Finally the crew
Of Pavement comes ashore, causing
Beachhead as stage jumpers bail out
Into a sea of sweating bodies

Where stuck together I find my frame
Resting on hair that counts the beat
Soaking up the reservoir of beer
Which creates my slippery feet.
Grabbing on, looking for direction
We thrash our longhair. As the hour of
Madness moves quick, necks gyrate
Like a machine and drinkers lurking
Outside offer their jovial gleam.

Salt Breeze
(For Andrew Fagan)

Out past Evan’s Bay
the salt breeze follows us
through the Kilbirnie streets
out towards Lyall Bay.

‘Smell the salt air,’
you say.

Thinking back
I remembered once as a young poet
how I tried
to use your salt rhythms

instilling your sea breeze
in my words.
Now, older, I catch my own winds
hoist my own sails

set my own course,
always remembering the way
to steer the rudder
first came from you.

The Skater Thinks of Love

At the skate park
it’s not love he’ll meet

but fate, etched out, landing on
two wheels. See him spin

and loop, then race
the ramp, turn and climb

and produce another slick manoeuvre.
It’s a lot easier to ride he thinks

than to love; and, when she comes
calling, he’ll know soon enough

the sharp turn or twist in
the tale will not be from

speed, but from the mount;
the faster you go, the harder you fall.

head like a hole, early gig

watch curiously
the psychotic dilemma
alienated people
crowding together
users, abusers and fiends
upstairs in a red starship
hovering the moon’s crater.

all around me:

cacophonous sounds
longhaired freaks
tight arses
leather, tits and hips

then, four naked men rush the stage
and hordes crush my sight
crunching chords, they leave no prisoners
as swirling hair orbits the mind

i jump with the tribe
as a girl smiles and teases me
chanting in slow motion
and moving against me

leaving is believing,
my head’s like a hole.

Stax Nightclub, Cuba Street, 1993

Mark Pirie was born in 1974, in Wellington, New Zealand. Work includes the anthology of young New Zealand writing, The NeXt Wave (University of Otago Press, 1998), the short story collection, Swing, and 14 poetry collections, including Shoot, Reading the Will, The Blues, Dumber, Wellington Fool and London Notebook. A new joint collection Sounds of Sonnets (with Michael O’Leary) has recently appeared from HeadworX. From 1995-2005, he edited and co-founded the literary magazine JAAM (Just Another Art Movement). His new and selected poems, Gallery, was published by Salt Publishing, Cambridge, England. He runs the small press HeadworX in Wellington. The poems included here are from his latest book of poems The Search. Pirie’s new book consists mainly of poems about various parts of Wellington and was published by ESAW in June 2007.

Mark has been published in the Che Guevara Poetry Anthology  The book is available from Amazon:

More information on it can be found at

It's definitely worth a read!!